Missouri Baptists aid future children’s home
By Susan Mires
December 9, 2004
PRINCETON – When children in northern Missouri need foster care, they often have to be moved hours away to find a place a stay.
But the Sonrise Children’s Home hopes to offer them love and acceptance, as well as food and shelter, close to home. The volunteer board is working to renovate a historic building into a residential facility to care for up to a dozen children.
“We really want to demonstrate God’s love and guide kids to a relationship with God,” said Georgetta Young, one of the organizers. Young and her husband, John, became burdened for foster children as they worked with them at church. She said that without notice, the children could be moved away to the city because there were not enough foster parents in the area. As a prosecuting attorney, John Young has witnessed first-hand some of the struggles families experience.
An opportunity seemed to present itself when Mercer County advertised its former county poor farm for sale. The Youngs quickly formed a non-profit organization with other concerned citizens, including Gary and Connie Urich, who were serving at First Baptist Church, Princeton, at the time. Gary Urich is also a trustee at Southwest Baptist University and Connie serves as recording secretary for the Missouri Baptist Convention. The organization offered $5,000 for the vacant building and land, but the offer was rejected. The group started looking at constructing a new facility on a piece of donated land.
“We were really working toward building a new building when the county commission said they wanted to give us the building for $1,” Young said.
Sonrise took possession of the three-story brick building in early 2002 and since then, work has been ongoing. With enough support, the home could be ready to open next year.
“It’s not our project, it’s God’s project,” Young said.
All of the work has been completed debt-free, most of it performed by volunteers and groups on mission. This summer, Trinity Baptist Church in Willow Springs took a mission trip to Princeton to work on the home. Pastor David Cox said they learned about the project from the North American Mission Board Web site. They had already been considering a trip within Missouri this year and were moved to help.
“These people have a vision and a heart for a children’s home,” Cox said. “When we began to see there was an ongoing need, we decided this fall to plan a long weekend there.”
Trinity Baptist returned for the fall project Nov. 4-7. They’ve adopted the dining room – an appropriate room for Baptists, Cox joked – and are planning another trip this spring.
“I’ve been so touched by all the people who have come and worked,” Young said.
More rooms are available to be adopted. Churches can remodel the rooms, buy furnishings and pray for the children who will be staying there, Young said. Most appliances have already been donated. The work that remains to be completed mostly involves painting, electrical and finishing work and cabinetry.
The large building is ideally designed to house both boys and girls, Young explained. The rural setting will provide room for the children to run and play. The board of directors, which meets monthly, plans to hire a couple to live at the home to care for the children and model Christian family principles.
“Our goal is to keep brothers and sisters together,” she said. “They can stay as long as necessary. Hopefully, we’ll have them long enough to make a change in their life and maybe even their parents’ lives.”
To participate in the state program, Sonrise Home must be open to all denominations. The Youngs are members of Grace Fellowship, a Missouri Baptist church in Trenton. The other board members belong to different churches in the area.
Even though northern Missouri is a mostly rural area, they have no doubt there’s a need for the children’s home.
“In just Mercer County, in one week’s time, we could have had the home full,” Young said.
Sonrise will rely on private donations to operate. More support is needed to get the facility ready to house children.
“We can always use financial help or good old-fashioned hard work,” she said.
For more information about Sonrise Children’s Home, contact Young at (660) 748-3909 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.